8 Places To Go Trainspotting in San Diego

Plus Museums & A Model Railroad Review!

By Courtney Daly-Pavone July 17, 2019

Does Your Kid Have Train Brain?

Are they a rail fan with a one track mind (no pun intended). It starts with Thomas the Tank Engine, and can grow with your child. Trains are ageless, wholesome family fun, and San Diego has some of the best places to go trainspotting!

 Old Town Model Railroad Depot *Only Open for 3 More Months!

Hurry and visit the Old Town Model Railroad Depot before it closes! A trip to this museum will take you back in time, to the 1950's, where various trains travel over a 2,500 sq. ft. layout which features a city at night including over 100 buildings with lights and flashing neon signs, a ballpark, zoo, depot, industrial district and even a Drive-In Theatre! Visitors may even try their hand at being the engineer on this remote controlled exhibit. No entrance fee, donations accepted.

Hours: Open every day, except Tuesday From: 11am - 6pm.

Location: Old Town Model Railroad Depot

2415 San Diego Avenue, San Diego, CA 92110

(619) 299-9015

Pacific Southwest Railway Museum La Mesa Depot

The La Mesa Depot Museum is open for tours on Saturday afternoons from 1PM to 4PM. There is no fee to visit the museum. Visitors can inspect the steam locomotive and string of freight cars on the nearby track and pass through the ticket/waiting area and view the telegrapher’s station and a small exhibit area in the baggage room. This building and its past are a fascinating look at a bit of small-town railroading from yesteryear and its importance to the community it served. 

For more information visit:

Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Campo

The Museum’s main facility is located in Campo, California, a pleasant fifty-mile drive east of downtown San Diego. Over eighty major pieces of railroad equipment, including steam and diesel locomotives, passenger cars, freight cars and cabooses are on display there. For more information visit:

San Diego Model Railroad Museum A San Diego Treasure!

The San Diego Model Railroad Museum spans over 27,000 square feet of trains, trestles, and tracks. Located in historic Balboa Park, SDMRM features both indoor and outdoor exhibits and programming for all ages.   


$11.50 – Adult (ages 15-64)

$9.00 – Senior (ages 65+)

$8.00 – Military ( With valid I.D)

$6.00 – Students (with valid I.D)

$6.00 – Child (ages 6-14)

Children 5 and under free with each paid adult.


Tuesday – Friday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Saturday – Sunday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Closed Mondays, except Holiday Mondays

Location: 1649 El Prado San Diego, CA 92101 Tel. 619-696-0199

Balboa Park Miniature Train

The Balboa Park Miniature Train is the perfect ride for children ages 0-7. The train pulls out of the station for 3-minute rides around a portion of Balboa Park. The train station is located outside the Zoo’s exit. The train is a model G16 - now a rare antique with as few as fifty currently remaining. Train tickets are $3 for ages 1 and older; children younger than age 1 are free. Ages 5 and younger must ride with a paying adult. For more information visit:

Coronado Library Children's Room

The entry to the Children's Library is marked with a unique Wizard of Oz glass panel portal. The Children's Library also features a large diorama case with changing exhibits, a working model railroad, and a doll house. Kids will love watching the train zoom bye as they read about Trains!

Escondido History Center Grape Day Park

Train Depot & Train Car

The Santa Fe Depot is one of the oldest buildings in the city.  Now a museum, which includes the railroad office and waiting room as well as displays of Native American heritage, early Escondido agriculture, and the development of Escondido as a town.  The railroad car, #92, was built by the Pullman Company in  the 1920s.  The interior has been restored to include passenger seats and a mailroom, but the main display is an H-O scale model railroad that depicts the original 22-mile route from Oceanside to Escondido. The Train Depot and Train Car are open Tuesday - Thursday and Saturday. Due to limited staffing, hours re subject to change; please call ahead to confirm that we will be open when you wish to visit. For more information visit:

Poway Midland Railroad

Take a ride on The Poway-Midland Railroad it's joyous! A full-size, narrow-gauge railroad in Old Poway Park which carries passengers aboard vintage and antique trains. Fares range $1 for kids, $2.50-$3.50 for adult tickets. There are plenty of things to do in the park after the train ride. There are several free museums, open space for picnics, or dine at The Hamburger Factory.

Train Schedule

  • Saturdays: 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • (Depot closes and last departure at 3:45)
  • Sundays: 11 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • (Depot closes and last departure at 1:45)
  • (No operations 2nd Sunday of each month: ‘Quiet Sunday’.)                                                                                                               

Bachmann Pacific Flyer HO Scale Train Set

This stunning electric train set was easy enough for my eight-year-old to put together and operate by himself. As a California boy, he beamed with pride with this rail set that resembles the trains of the Old West.  

Set includes: 0-6-0 steam locomotive and tender with operating headlight, gondola, box car, offset cupola caboose, body-mounted E-Z Mate®  couplers, 36" circle of snap-fit  E-Z Track®  including 11 pieces of curved track and 1 curved plug-in terminal rerailer, and power pack and speed control. My son played with this set for hours! 

Available at Frank The Trainman in University Heights!